Professor Richard Alley ForMemRS

Richard Alley is a geologist who investigates the relationship between the Earth’s cryosphere — where water is present in solid form at the surface — and climate change. Using ice core samples, Richard helped demonstrate that during geological time there have frequently been large and abrupt changes in our climate, validating our current best models of this process.

Working in the field in Antarctica and Greenland, he collects data that improve our understanding of the flow and stability of the world’s vast ice sheets. His findings have so far revealed the implications of changes in this flow for global sea level. Richard’s work is also elucidating how glaciers and ice sheets modify the Earth’s surface, making fascinating landscapes.

Richard is a seasoned and enthusiastic communicator of science and has written books, presented television programmes — including PBS’s EARTH: The Operators’ Manual — and advised the US government on climate change. He was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize together with politician and climate change activist, Al Gore.

Subject groups

  • Earth and environmental sciences

    Climate sciences

Professor Richard Alley ForMemRS
Elected 2014